Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drug could aid treatment of anxiety disorders

Date:
February 21, 2013
Source:
University of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
Scopolamine is a drug with many uses. Treating anxiety disorders may become a new use for it, new life science research suggests.

The drug scopolamine has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including nausea and motion sickness. A new study by UCLA life scientists suggests that it may also be useful in treating anxiety disorders.

Researchers found that the drug can help boost the effectiveness of a common treatment for anxiety disorders known as exposure therapy. In exposure therapy, a subject with a phobia or anxiety is repeatedly exposed to the object or situation they fear, in a non-threatening setting. The goal of this treatment is to ultimately lessen and eliminate the fear -- in essence, make it "extinct."

However, fear-extinction memories formed during this type of therapy tend to be weak because they are tied to the non-dangerous context. Subjects have a tendency to relapse when they again encounter the source of their anxiety in a different environment.

"Extinction has one Achilles heel that at present has not quite been pierced -- namely, extinction learning is highly dependent on the environment or context in which it occurs," said Michael Fanselow, a UCLA professor of psychology and the senior author of the study. "This makes memories formed during extinction highly fragile and susceptible to fear-recovery or relapse in any non-extinction environment."

In their new study, published Feb. 15 in the in the journal Biological Psychiatry, Fanselow and his colleagues attempted to overcome this challenge by administering scopolamine in conjunction with the exposure therapy.

"We took an entirely novel theoretical approach by targeting extinctions' context-dependency and attempting to unbind extinction from its contextual bond," said Fanselow, who holds UCLA's Eleanor Leslie Term Chair in Innovative Neuroscience. "Using a non-invasive and readily translatable pharmacological agent, scopolamine, to block cholinergic transmission and hence, contextual processing, we discovered that fear-recovery after extinction could be thwarted."

Fanselow and his team were able to disrupt contextual processing in rats during anxiety-extinction by using low doses of the drug.

"This finding provides groundbreaking evidence that changing the nature of extinction learning, rather then its magnitude, can produce profound improvements in the prevention of relapse," Fanselow said.

The research, while still preliminary, suggests that scopolamine may be an effective pharmacological adjunct to exposure therapy.

The lead author of the study was Moriel Zelikowsky, who conducted the research as a UCLA graduate student in Fanselow's laboratory.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. The original article was written by Stuart Wolpert and Rhiannon Bugno. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Moriel Zelikowsky, Timothy A. Hast, Rebecca Z. Bennett, Michael Merjanian, Nathaniel A. Nocera, Ravikumar Ponnusamy, Michael S. Fanselow. Cholinergic Blockade Frees Fear Extinction from Its Contextual Dependency. Biological Psychiatry, 2013; 73 (4): 345 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.08.006

Cite This Page:

University of California - Los Angeles. "Drug could aid treatment of anxiety disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221092006.htm>.
University of California - Los Angeles. (2013, February 21). Drug could aid treatment of anxiety disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221092006.htm
University of California - Los Angeles. "Drug could aid treatment of anxiety disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221092006.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Scopolamine: An Old Drug With New Psychiatric Applications

Feb. 12, 2013 Scopolamine is an anticholinergic drug with many uses. For example, it prevents nausea, vomiting, and motion ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins